Melink Solar & Geo Awarded U.S. Department of Energy Grant

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Cincinnati, Ohio — Melink Solar & Geo, Inc., a solar PV and geothermal engineering company, has been awarded grant funding by the United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). This funding will enable Melink to accelerate the research and development of its next-generation Hybrid Geothermal HVAC System, which stores energy using thermal batteries. The system can potentially reduce the installation costs of geothermal heat pump systems, which represent a significant energy savings opportunity for the U.S. with widespread implementation. The system’s prototype is currently heating and cooling Melink’s new Net-Zero Energy HQ2 facility in Milford, Ohio.

Melink Hybrid Geothermal HVAC System
Melink Solar & Geo has been awarded an innovation grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for its Hybrid Geothermal HVAC System. A system prototype is in operation at its Milford, Ohio, headquarters.

“Our company is developing a Hybrid Geothermal HVAC System to minimize the need for expensive ground loops. Instead, we are mimicking the thermal energy storage capacity of the water inside such ground loops with phase change materials (PCM),” said Steve Melink, founder and CEO. “Melink is piloting the first prototype at our Net-Zero Energy headquarters, and we are now developing next-generation prototypes for eventual commercialization. With our third U.S. Department of Energy grant, we are committed to mainstreaming this technology for the benefit of the entire HVAC industry.”

The funding is part of an ongoing innovation project with the DOE, which encourages small businesses to advance innovation at federal agencies. Melink received the recent funding because its Hybrid Geothermal HVAC System demonstrated technical feasibility during the first phase of research. Melink Solar & Geo’s team of engineers, designers and researchers have worked collaboratively with the University of Dayton, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and industry partners to design a more cost-effective energy efficient HVAC system.

“This funding from the DOE is the result of a multi-year effort wherein a group of intelligent and highly dedicated people have proven that the system has merit, and I’m excited to say that the Hybrid Geothermal HVAC System is just one part of our growing platform of Net-Zero products,” said Seth Parker, vice president and general manager of Melink Solar & Geo.

The two-year funding awarded by the DOE will be used to finalize engineering and early commercialization of the Hybrid Geothermal HVAC System. For more information about the system or Melink Solar & Geo, please visit https://melinkcorp.com/geothermal or contact [email protected].

About Melink Solar & Geo

Melink Solar & Geo is a national provider of renewable energy and efficiency solutions for commercial buildings. They provide consulting services and turnkey management of solar and geothermal projects to help businesses of all sizes reduce energy consumption and produce clean and sustainable energy for their facilities. The company recently opened a Zero-Energy building on its campus, featuring new thermal storage technologies being tested to further mainstream geothermal HVAC for commercial use. Melink Solar & Geo is affiliated with Melink Corporation, which provides energy efficiency solutions for commercial buildings.

The Application of Ground-Source Heat Pumps with Waste Water Systems

The use of waste water, both grey and black, as a heat source or sink is not a new concept. But, until recently, the availability of cost-effective, factory-constructed systems has been limited.

Now, with these new systems hitting the market, engineers have more options than ever for designing more sustainable facilities. One such way the marketplace is utilizing waste-water technology is through ground-source heat pumps.

However, many engineers may be hearing pushback when they suggest incorporating waste water into plans. Maybe you’ve heard or said it yourself: “We’ve never done this before.”

To combat the obstacle of pushback, engineers must outline the project goals to demonstrate good engineering concepts and application guidelines:

  • Understand the application of waste-water energy recovery systems for heating and cooling applications
  • Understand characteristics of unconventional water sources and their applications as the heat sink and heat source for ground-source heat pump operations
  • Recognize the capital cost requirements to effectively implement heat recovery from unconventional energy sources
  • Understand the importance of performing a thorough site investigation of the project location to assess the site limitations and unique features

Case Study: Grey Water Energy Recovery

Project Type: Retrofit of laundry area for 350-room hotel
Project Location: Alberta, Canada
Project Size: 6,000 gallons of hot water/day
Average Run Time: 10.7 hours/day
Average Output: 1.28 million BTU/day or 375 kWH/day or 1,700 gallons (50° to 140°F)
Average Performance: 4.71 COP
Peak Performance: 8.77 COP
Estimated Annual Savings: $40k/year

Laundry facility utilizing ground-source heat pumps with waste water

Learn More about Ground-Source Heat Pumps + Waste Water Systems

Steve Hamstra of Melink’s Solar & Geo team will present more on the application of ground-source heat pumps with waste water systems at the ASHRAE Conference, prior to the AHR Expo (Feb. 3-5, 2020, in Orlando, FL). If you’ll be there, we invite you to schedule a meet-and-greet with the Melink team to discuss geothermal solutions for your business.

Melink Corporation provides turnkey management of geothermal projects for architects, engineers, ESCOs, and building owners, as well as consulting services for architects and engineering firms.

MELINK SOLAR & GEO EXPAND ENERGY-SAVING OFFERINGS

Melink Solar & Geo recently became a national representative for SHARC Energy Systems, a company that has developed a series of products focused on recovering thermal energy in liquid waste such as sewage, laundry wash water, brewery tank cleaning water, etc.  This energy is then transferred via a heat pump to create new hot water for either domestic hot water (showering and cleaning) or space heating hot water.  These systems can also take the place of a cooling tower to allow heat rejection in the summer months without consuming precious water or requiring chemical treatment.

Why would MS&G want to promote these products?

First, this is a largely untapped source of thermal energy that is HUGE!  In 2005, the US DOE estimated that 1,194,200 BILLION BTU’s are discarded annually down our drains in North America – probably much more nearly 15 years later.  Note that if you burned natural gas to make that much heat at typical market costs, this untapped energy stream could be worth nearly $6,000,000,000!  That’s a lot of zeros!

Second reason to add this to our “toolbox of energy solutions” includes our mission to “electrify everything” in a manner that is highly cost effective and environmentally positive.  This technology is complementary to our other Solar PV and Ground-Source Heat Pump offerings in meeting that goal.  This additional also complements our other divisions; Testing & Balancing, IntelliHood (smart, variable volume commercial kitchen hoods) and PositiV (our new building “health” monitoring system).

PIRANHA - SHARC Wastewater Heat Recovery System

Case Study

Recently we designed a geothermal heat pump system for a new 7 story/230 room hotel that is under construction in the USA Midwest.  We observed that the heat pump system removed much more cooling energy than required for heating on an annual basis.  One way to address this is to apply this type of technology to “pump” waste heat from the HVAC system into the Domestic Hot Water system to reduce the burning of natural gas, reduce energy cost and allow the heat pump system to operate more efficiently.  We’ve proposed to provide a SHARC PIRANHA system to address this and depending upon the size of the system (5 or 10 tons) we could provide an annual energy savings of $4,000 to $9,000 with a CO2 reduction of 22 to 45 metric tonnes. This system could provide 27-54% of their annual hot water needs.  Payback on the initial investment can be as short as 6-7 years.

We provided the conceptual design for a 235,000 square foot research facility proposed to be built in Ohio.  They wanted to consider a ground-source heat pump solution for their nominal 1,000-ton cooling load.  We looked at a full-size geothermal bore field that would cost approximately $5.3 million, then a smaller bore field with a cooling tower that would cost $3.0 million and finally, a VERY small geothermal bore field with a SHARC system tied into the city sewer for only $1.5 million!  This offering allows us to provide better energy consumption than a full-size geothermal borefield or the cooling tower options with lower first cost, no water or chemical treatment for a cooling tower and ALL HVAC components safely underground or inside to reduce risk from damage from weather events or acts of terror.

SHARC Wastewater Heat Exchange System

Applications

We continue to work with SHARC Energy to develop concepts that can enhance our mission to change how we heat & cool buildings and provide hot water.  These types of systems can be great for:

  • Lodging applications such as recovering heat from sewage or laundry, possibly large commercial kitchens with a significant dish washing load as well
  • Breweries, distilleries and wineries that use a great deal of hot water for cleaning that is then lost down the drain
  • Car washes – also can be lots of hot water down the drain
  • Apartment buildings, college residence halls and senior living facilities – target size of 50 to 400 residents is the sweet spot, but larger is great too!
  • Large swimming pools that have separate tanks for filter backwash water before it is released to a city sewer

We are even looking at two municipal (large) snow melt systems in the Midwest that use natural gas to provide the needed heat.  Converting these to municipal sewage heat pumps can significantly reduce energy consumption, cost and CO2 emissions.

Want more information on the SHARC system? Contact us here or call us at 513.965.7300!

Geothermal Codes and Standards

Standardization has always been the hallmark of American way of life and its position as a global leader in achieving protection of public health, safety and welfare. This has been true in every industry and the geothermal industry is no different. This piece will highlight the best practices, standards and codes that have been developed over the years by this ‘relatively nascent’ industry.

The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA), has led the way in design and installation standards for closed loop geothermal heat pump systems. Over the years, this volunteer group of industry experts have perfected design guidelines, pipe and joining methods, flushing, flow testing and antifreeze selection. Their latest version also addresses source water piping, water quality and treatment.

Another industry standard that has gone through the ANSI process is the new ANSI/CSA/IGSHPA C448 Series-16 Bi-National standard that covers five different types of heat exchangers including horizontal, surface water and open loop systems. This is the first edition of the bi-national series and covers both residential and commercial geothermal systems.

As far as codes and its application is concerned, the geothermal industry has effectively been a subset of the hydronics industry. Both the International Mechanical Code and Uniform Mechanical code have addressed it, but only in bits and pieces. The first comprehensive code was launched just last month (August 2018) by International Officials of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) and is called the Uniform Solar, Hydronics and Geothermal Code (USHGC). This code includes systems where equipment and components collect, convey, store, and convert the sun’s energy and geothermal for a purpose including but not limited to service water heating, pool water heating, space heating and cooling and electrical service. This will serve as a great reference document for Authorities Having Jurisdiction over the installation of geothermal systems.

We at Melink take pride in our membership with various industry associations including IGSHPA and IAPMO and are honored to be contributing members of these groups. We also ensure all our design and installs adhere to the above standards and applicable codes.

It all fits in our vision to drive the industry by ‘innovating without reinventing’.

 

Holistic HVAC Design – A New Level Of Efficiency

Commercial buildings are commonly heated and cooled with mechanical equipment, powered by electrical service, and connected to plumbing systems such as natural gas and condensate lines depending on the type of HVAC system. Hence, building drawings are separated by the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing scopes of work, ie., M, E, and P sheets.

Often the mechanical engineer works independently of the electrical and plumbing engineers, and vice-versa. And often the mechanical contractor installing the heating/cooling system works independently of the electrical and plumbing contractors, and vice-versa. While this makes sense from a specialization standpoint, it can prevent holistic thinking and creative optimization strategies.

For example, the most energy-efficient HVAC system for a particular type of building in a given geographic area would naturally combine the best of all three specialties. In other words, the electrical and plumbing service should not just serve the mechanical equipment as an input or output. All three should be designed as a complementary system to provide heating and cooling capabilities depending on the resource that is most available, lowest cost, and cleanest/greenest at any period of time.

When there is a summer hot spell, it may be best to meet the incremental peak load with a small geothermal loop or thermal energy storage system. When there is high water usage for showers, toilets, and food prep, it may be best to meet the heating/cooling loads with a domestic water heat exchanger. When it is raining, it may be best to meet the heating/cooling loads with a rainwater heat exchanger.

And during the nights and weekends, when temperatures are lower and/or electrical rates are lower, an air-to-water condensing unit may be the best way to precondition the building water loop for daytime and occupied cooling needs. Moreover, it is a way to reduce peak demand charges by level-loading the HVAC system over a 24/7 period rather than a 8/5 period.

Melink is pioneering a super-hybrid geothermal HVAC system that will do all of this and more for its new HQ2 building. And it will be designed and constructed in a way that will make zero-energy buildings cost-effective and a model for future new construction and remodels.

We hope you will visit us next year after construction is completed to see the potential of holistic HVAC design. This means not only tapping Mother Nature’s resources, but the various ingoing and outgoing building waste streams. Conventional design practices rely on very dedicated and limited mechanical equipment – and this is typically less than efficient, not to mention optimal.

Steve Melink, PE

Melink Corporation

CEO

Geothermal Heat Pump Tax Credits Reinstated Through 2021

On February 9th, 2018 the U.S. geothermal heat pump industry had its federal tax credits restored for both residential and qualifying commercial installations. The federal tax credits, which correspond to a 30% credit for residential installations and a 10% credit for qualifying commercial installations, were passed as part of the Continuing Resolution spending bill that was recently approved by congress.

The reinstated tax credits for the geothermal heat pump industry are retroactive to January 1st, 2017 and have been successfully extended to January 1st, 2022. For commercial geothermal heat pump projects, the language of the tax credits has also been adjusted to reflect a favorable change regarding project eligibility. Commercial geothermal heat pump projects are now eligible for the federal tax credit if they are commenced by January 1st, 2022. Under previous language, commercial geothermal heat pump projects would have needed to be placed in service by January 1st, 2022 in order to qualify for the federal tax credit.

As a proud member of the geothermal heat pump industry, Melink is thrilled to see a renewed commitment from our congressional leaders towards the future of this energy-efficient and sustainable technology. Through it’s more efficient operation in both heating and cooling modes, geothermal heat pump technology has incredible potential to reduce both the peak electrical demand and overall utility usage of the built environment here in the United States.

These federal tax credits will ultimately make geothermal heat pump technology more accessible to the public and will help drive adoption of one of the most energy-efficient and sustainable heating and cooling systems available. Furthermore, these tax credits will only stand to improve the financial return of geothermal heat pump systems for Melink’s clients around the country, further enhancing what has already been proven as a sound financial investment.

Here’s to a bright future for geothermal heat pump technology, in 2018 and beyond!

Major Company Invests in Geothermal HVAC, Legitimizes Revolutionary Heating & Cooling Approach

Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory X, formerly known as Google [X], revealed one of its newest projects in July: a geothermal HVAC startup known as “Dandelion” that will focus on using innovative drilling techniques to deliver residential geothermal systems. We couldn’t be happier to see one of the world’s largest and most technologically influential companies showing substantial interest and
shedding light on an industry we’ve been working in for years. Geothermal HVAC systems provide a more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly solution than conventional heating and cooling systems, and the world is taking note.  
While Dandelion focuses  on residential applications, the same benefits can be seen on an even larger scale in a commercial setting. Have you recently been tasked with replacing an existing HVAC system or deciding what system to install in a new building? If so, you owe it to yourself to get ahead of the industry curve and consider installing a geothermal heating and cooling system. Beyond the system being a better solution for the environment, you will save 25-50% on HVAC energy costs, reduce system maintenance and water usage and extend your equipment life.

 

At this point you’re probably wondering how this type of technology works. Most Geothermal HVAC systems are installed underground as a large heat exchanger via a closed-loop water circuit. In other words, there is a large network of pipes buried underground which circulate a working fluid that exchanges heat with the ground. For cooling, the system transfers heat from the building to the ground; and for heating, the system transfers the heat from the ground to the building. Since the ground maintains a constant temperature of 55-70 degrees depending on your location, a geothermal HVAC system can cut traditional heating and cooling costs in half by being more efficient.

At Melink, we offer innovative and customized solutions that range from individual services to our full turnkey project deliveries which take your system from concept to completion and include financing, design, installation and commissioning services. Interested in learning more? Click here for our FAQs or contact Geo Project Engineer Connor Donovan at [email protected].